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Older Than the Stars
Older Than the Stars
By author: Karen C. Fox   Illustrated by: Nancy Davis
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Binding Information: Hardback 
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Price: $15.95
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How old are you?--Older than you think.

In a way, we are all as old as the universe itself. In fact, every bit of every one of us was created in the Big Bang, billions of years ago.

Stunning illustrations and lively verse tell the story of the cosmic connections that tie human beings to the beginning of the universe. Simple, informative prose provides additional facts.

"After reading Older Than the Stars, I can now truly say, I am a star! I love the book and so do my grandchildren."
-- Florence Henderson, actress, singer, grandmother

This book is good for your brain because:
Earth and space science, sequence of events, origin and evolution of Earth

Download the cover image!

Download the The Timeline of the Universe poster (11x17).

Download the The Timeline of the Universe poster (8.5x11).

If you like this book, you'll love these:
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  • Blast Off! A Space Counting Book
  • Faraway Worlds

  • Also Available As:
    Binding Information: Paperback 
    ISBN: 978-1-57091-788-2
    Availability: In Stock
    Price: $7.95

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  • Reviews
      Kirkus Reviews - January 1, 2010
    In this appealing picture-book introduction to cosmology, a cumulative rhyme presents the "big bang" theory of the origin and development of the universe and the idea that humans, along with everything else, are made of star stuff. Each double-page spread is illustrated with Davis's lively supportive graphics done with pencil, cut paper and prints and digitally composed; each includes a breezy paragraph of more comprehensive explanation. The pages explode with color: vibrant oranges, yellows, pinks, purples and grayed greens. At first the "House that Jack Built" text tumbles, too, becoming more orderly as the chaos of the beginning structures itself into stars, the Earth and finally its inhabitants. A final timeline summarizes the chronological narrative, balancing 300,000 years on the left with nearly five billion years on the right but noting that it is not done to scale. A glossary offers more precise definitions of the terms used. This simple but effective presentation of a complicated theoretical model, the most commonly accepted explanation of the universe's beginnings, will delight early readers and listeners with its personal connection.
      School Library Journal - February 1, 2010
    Fox and Davis tackle the challenge of creating an engaging read-aloud about the Big Bang theory with energy and style. Employing the structure of a familiar nursery rhyme, the text takes readers through the steps of the universe's expansion: "This is the BANG when the world began./These are the bits that were born in the bang when the world began." A text box on each spread offers a clear, concise explanation of what happened in that particular stage of the universe. Fittingly, the illustrations start off chaotically, relying on abstract blobs of color and use of textual design. Gradually, as the universe orders itself, the artwork resolves into familiar shapes: the Earth, animals, people. Both author and illustrator hang the child appeal of the book on the concept that the same atoms present at the beginning of the universe make up our world today; in essence, each child is "as old as the universe itself." Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano's Big Bang! The Tongue-Tickling Tale of a Speck That Became Spectacular (Charlesbridge, 2005) also offers a child-friendly take on the theory, but Older Than the Stars will appeal to even younger students with its nursery-rhyme-style text and simple, clear explanations. Perfect for the classroom, this is an intriguing introduction to a difficult-to-understand concept.
      Kids Lit - February 19, 2010
    Celebrate the age of your atoms with this dynamic nonfiction picture book. Starting with the lines:

    You are older than the dinosaurs.
    Older than the earth.
    Older than the sun and all the planets.
    You are older than the stars.
    You are as old as the universe itself.

    Through a traditional folktale format of cumulative rhyming lines, this book can be read in several ways. The rhymes serve as a structure for the book, but the real pleasure is in the scientific facts that are presented with flair and an eagerness that make them fun to read. Young readers will learn about the Big Bang, how stars were created, and how our planet and humans came about. The book ends with a colorful timeline and a glossary of terms.

    Fox's rhyming is catchy and sound. Her scientific information is interesting and a pleasure to read. Featuring strong colors, deep contrasts and vivid design, Davis' illustrations are dynamic. They have a timeless feel that is very appropriate for the subject, yet they are definitely modern in feel as well.

    A great nonfiction picture book on a subject that will intrigue young readers, this picture book will not sit still on shelves for long. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
      Shelf-employed - March 9, 2010
    Wow! Who would think that one could create a picture book explaining the Big Bang Theory? A good picture book. An accurate picture book. A rhyming, cumulative picture book. Karen C. Fox and illustrator Nancy Davis have done just that! Kudos!

    A simple, cumulative rhyme follows the creation of the universe,

    "... this is the star of red-hot stuff, that burst from the gas in a giant puff, that spun from the blocks, that formed from the bits that were born in the bang, when the world began."

    Smaller text insets explain the concept in greater detail for older readers. A Time Line of the Universe and a Glossary are included.

    Large text in a "printing" font is artfully placed on colorful, double-spread illustrations, created with "pencil, cut paper, and potato and eraser prints, then digitally composed."
      Bureau County Republican - March 20, 2010
    The average young child lives in the here and now. Last year was a long time ago, and a decade doesn't mean much to a five-year-old. Two colorful picture books, however, tackle the topic of events stretching over millions of years.

    "How old are you?" It's a question many people ask on meeting a child for the first time. Older Than the Stars would be an unexpected answer--but it's logical coming from a child who has enjoyed this exciting picture book. Cumulative text follows the familiar nursery-rhyme format of "This is the house that Jack built." What is being built isn't a house, though, it's the universe.

    The cheerful rhyme uses simple terms for the read-aloud crowd, like "bits" and "dust" for protons and atom clouds, while boxed sidebars add details for elementary-school readers. Based on the most recent scientific discoveries, the book explains how atoms are recycled. Just imagine!--Our bodies contain bits of primeval dust, and the oxygen in our lungs was probably once breathed by dinosaurs.

    Many elements combine to form our world, and different forms of art--from simple potato prints to computer graphics--come together here in strikingly appropriate illustrations. This amazing science book for young children ends with a timeline of the universe, covering billions of years.

    Earthsteps: A Rock's Journey Through Time opens with a timeline: a graphic image of geological timescale, going back 4600 million years. The story itself begins a mere 250 million years ago. "A rock hurtled down the cliff and landed with a muddy spray on a rock pile. Thwap!"

    A rock may seem an unlikely main character for a picture book, but this prehistoric rock provides a focal point as the millennia pass. Mixed-media paintings show the changes in the rock's surroundings over time. The land changes; oceans rise and fall; plants and animal life vary. The rock weathers to a pebble, then a grain of sand, and eventually fuses into sandstone as the geologic cycle continues.

    Previously published in 2000, the out-of-print title is being re-released this month for a new generation of young children. The straightforward text is accessible to read-aloud listeners. Independent readers may need help with a few words, but the scientific terms are understandable in context. A glossary provides simple definitions.

    Cosmology and geology, given the right presentation, are mind-expanding subjects. Both of these vivid picture books will increase a child's natural sense of awe at the wonder-filled world in which we live.

      Montgomery News - April 2, 2010
    In her first picture book, a science writer has deftly taken the complex theory of the Big Bang and made it accessible for children. The simple, cumulative text, “This is the gas in the giant puff/that spun from the blocks/ that formed from the bits/that were born in the bang/when the world began” is accompanied by explanatory sidebars and bright, bold abstract art that matches the dynamic story. The ending stresses our connection with all that happened before – “You are older than the earth/ Older than the sun and all the planets/ Older than the stars/ You are as old as the universe itself.” Heady stuff for sure and aided by a timeline and glossary.

    I am constantly in awe of the sheer numbers of children’s books published each year, and even more in awe of those few that rise above the rest with a uniqueness all their own. Older Than the Stars is a colorful, eye-popping foray into real science - as in who we are, how we got here, and our link to the very Universe we live in. This amazing book covers the moment of the Big Bang to life on earth as we know it today, and all points between, always focusing on our role in the chemical and biological processes that led to humanity and all the other creatures we share the planet with. Karen C. Fox literally gives kids and parents alike a solid science lesson in how life itself formed from the stuff of stars and how, over time, the most basic building blocks of life in the universe led to the evolutionary process by which you who are reading this review got here. The delightful and quirky illustrations by Nancy Davis add to the magical wonder of this highly educational yet utterly entertaining book. If kids are going to read, the books they read need to be interesting enough to compete with video games, computers and other distractions. Older Than the Stars can be thoroughly enjoyed by kids and their parents as a way to make learning about complex subject matter fun and engaging. This is a fantastic book to read to a child and also a great classroom addition that teachers can use to light the fire of interest under kids for the natural world around them and for their own unique history in the cosmic “scheme of things.” A highly recommended book all the way around.

    While the Big Bang was giving birth to the universe, it also brought forth all the goods that went into making everything else thereafter--like, for instance, your fingernails. Karen C. Fox and Nancy Davis have taken this sophisticated idea and, via a cumulative poem, snippets of explicatory text and great spreads of saturated color that evoke the elemenal qualities of cave paintings, brought its beauty and wonder into focus. "From the beginning," says Fox, "it was clear that 'The House that Jack Built' was a great framework to take an abstract idea about how the universe formed and connect it to something concrete--your body." Just so: "These are the atoms so strong and tough / that formed in the star of red-hot stuff / that burst from the gas in a giant puff / that spun from the blocks / that formed from the bits / that were born in the bang / when the world began." It's an awesome chain.
      Wild About Nature - May 16, 2010
    Told in a “House That Jack Built” style of cumulative rhyme and paired with fact-filled side bars, Older Than the Stars explains the Big Bang Theory of how our universe came to be. The bold illustrations that pop with oranges, reds, pinks and purples and the fun rhyme will entertain and educate younger children.

    This is the star of red hot stuff that burst from the gas in a giant puff that spun from the blocks that formed from the bits that were born in the bang when the world began.

    While the rhyming text is fun, it is the side bars that provide the meaty information for older children to really dig in, learn and understand this scientific theory. Back matter includes a timeline of the universe and a glossary of terms. On the whole, the art and text present scientific information clearly and in an enjoyable way!
      The Bookworm Sez - June 27, 2010
    How many fingers old are you?

    Grown-ups have probably been asking you that question for years, and you were always proud to show them by holding up so many fingers. By now, though, you're old enough to tell them out loud.

    Would you say grandma's old? What about mom or dad? And would you be surprised to know that you'e older than you think you are? Find out how that works in the new book Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox, illustrated by Nancy Davis.

    Billions of years ago, the whole universe was a tiny speck of dust. And then, suddenly--BANG--it swelled up bigger and bigger like a balloon.

    It grew fast as tiny bits of protons swirled around. Electrons formed, followed by atoms. It looked like a snow globe, only bigger than you can imagine.

    Over millions of years, the atoms were pulled together by gravity until they formed gigantic clouds that were mooshed together into bright, shiny stars. When the stars died, they exploded and their atoms went in all directions throughout the universe, making more clouds and more stars.

    Five billion years ago, a cloud of atoms made our sun. A few clumps spun off and made our planets, which means that Earth was created from bits of stars.

    Earth was boiling hot when it was born, but as it cooled, continents and oceans formed. Extra atoms joined together to form living creatures, which became more complex as centuries passed.

    It took billions more years, but plants and animals came to populate the world. And as each living thing died, its atoms were released back into the Earth to be recycled by other creatures that ate, breathed and drank.

    All this means that you, too, are created in part from the atoms that came from the Earth that came from the stars that came from the galaxy. Atoms of volcanoes might be in your blood. Bits of your fingernails might have come from dinosaur claws. You, therefore, are older than you think!

    I'll bet you haven't thought about "The House That Jack Built" in years. You will, when you read this book aloud to your little ones.

    Older Than the Stars is one of those unique books that can grow with your child. For the youngest kids, there's a sing-song-y rhyme that they'll never tire of hearing, and sweeping, colorful pictures by Davis to go along with the story.

    For older kids, there's a rudimentary explanation of evolutionary theory that still kind of makes my brain hurt. Yes, it's complicated, but I couldn't help but think that this is as easy as it gets for the targeted age group, as well as for adults who are definitely not physicists.

    Overall, I think the audience for this book is wide: 4-6 year olds will like the picture-book aspect, while 7-11 year olds will relish the learning here. Either way, if your child has an interest in Earth science or astronomy, Older Than the Stars is a book he'll want to get his fingers on.
      Planetary Society Blog - September 14, 2010
    Older Than the Stars is a book about Big Bang cosmology, solar system formation, and human evolution for young children. It's hard to imagine that such a thing could succeed, but it does. The main text is a repetitive, singsongy, catchy rhyme in the spirit of the traditional "house that Jack built" poem:

    This is the blast intense enough

    to hurl the atoms so strong and tough

    that formed in the star of red-hot stuff

    that burst from the gas in a giant puff

    that spun from the blocks

    that formed from the bits

    that were born in the bang

    when the world began.

    The rhyme is really fun to read aloud, and a reasonably factual account of the scientific "creation story" accompanied by quirky, brightly colored graphics, with text incorporated into the artwork traveling in topsy-turvy directions, so it's a success for my preschooler. But wait, there's more. Each rhyming page contains a block of smaller text suitable for older children, explaining the same phenomenon described in that page's rhyme in much more detailed prose format. For example:

    Each star shone brightly for billions of years. But stars don't live forever. Whenever a star died, it exploded in a giant fireball called a supernova. The searing heat of the supernova forced some of the star's atoms to melt together into new metals like iron, copper, and gold. The explosion sent all the atoms -- big and small -- hurtling through the universe in all directions.

    n fact, I think this book is rather sneaky. Although those blocks of text are marketed as being for older children (and will certainly be read by older children), in fact I think they're really intended for a different audience: parents and teachers. I think there's a lot of otherwise well-educated parents out there who find themselves at a loss trying to explain to their children the scientific view of the origin of the universe, our world, and life. Worried about being wrong, they don't explain their children's origins to them at all. The blocks of text on each page will give parents a foundation in the scientific story for themselves, making them better prepared to answer their children's "why?" and "how?" questions.

      Oneota Reading Journal - November 8, 2010
    Older Than the Stars gives children a larger perspective of their existence, how life began, and how earth was formed. It discusses the fusing of atoms, the formation of gases, gravity, elements, and the composition of all matter. The story builds upon itself, adding a new step of creation at the turn of each page while repeating the previous one. Some may find the story to be a bit controversial as it only credits science for creation. Even so, it thoroughly discusses the scientific theory of creation, the interrelation of all people and the elements they descended from.
      Library Media Connection - November 1, 2010
    Karen Fox has taken an otherwise difficult science topic and has created an easy to follow description of the "Big Bang Theory." By using the familiar rhyming format from "The House that Jack Built," the reader follows the birth of the universe, the plantes, stars, and life. Text includes a simple rhyme for the young reader and more scientific text for the older reader. But as simple as the rhyme is, it still gives a clear picture of the formation of the universe and the evolution of life. The illustrations are big and bright and colorful. Since most children are fascinated by the planets, Fox has provided an accessible title for young readers, indicating that they could be breathing oxygen once breathed by dinosaurs. What young reader would not be thrilled by that revelation?
    "You are older than the dinosaurs." The opening statement of Older Than the Stars engages the reader in an entertaining and educational romp which connects the beginning of time to elements that make up our human bodies today. Using the technique of a cumulative tale, this book explains the origin of life based on the Big Bang scientific model of the universe. Like the nursery rhyme "This is the House that Jack Built," Fox tells a complex story by layering one event on top of another using relatively basic vocabulary. For example, a supernova is "...the blast intense enough to hurl the atoms so strong and tough, that formed in the star of red-hot stuff, that burst from the gas in a giant puff..."; always returning to "the bang when the world began." On one level the rhyme is an entertaining read aloud and would be appropriate as a choral piece for recitation. However, readers are also provided with the opportunity to delve more deeply into the origins of the universe and life on Earth with details on each page offering further explanation. Yet, these additional facts are still accessible to young readers. For example, Fox uses a simile to describe the formation of our solar system's sun: "As the cloud (of atoms) spun around and around, it flattened out like a giant plate." Vibrant color and appropriately primitive illustrations by Nancy Davis compliment the text. A time line with and glossary are included which help to clarify information provided. Pair this title with Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars:Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian to enhance a unit on space and the solar system.
    Karen C. Fox and illustrator Nancy Davis also take an unconventional angle in Older Than the Stars (Charlesbridge, 2010; Gr 2-6), introducing in exuberant mixed-media cartoons and a text that riffs on "The House that Jack Built," a direct link between the matter forged in the Big Bang's immediate aftermath and the atoms and molecules that make up the bodies of their picture-book audience. Explanatory notes and definitions support the text.
      Ithaca Child - October 1, 2011
    This is a book that begins with a bang. Employing the structure of a nursery rhyme, Karen Fox tells how the universe began and how the first stars were born: "This is the star of red-hot stuff that burst from the gas in a giant puff that spun from the blocks that formed from the bits that were born in the bang when the world began."

    Early stellar chaos, well-illustrated with Nancy Davis' bright potato prints and computer graphics, eventually resolves into form: planets, earth, plants, animals, people. Fox shows how matter created in the big bang has been recycled over the eons--with some of that primordial stardust coming to reside in each one of us.

    Fun as it is, Fox includes plenty of side-bars explaining what scientists know about how the universe formed. She concludes with a not-to-scale timeline of the universe and a glossary of useful terms.

      Language Arts - March 1, 2012
    Older Than the Stars provokes readers with this philosophical and somewhat scientific statement: "You are as old as the universe." This is an informational book about the universe, in which the reader's existence is connected to the history of the universe--from the big bang to now. Dynamic illustrations and side-note texts create such mood that readers might feel as if they are in an observatory. Descriptive and expressive language about universe creation may engage young readers with astronomical concepts and encourage them to start connecting themselves to the universe.